Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Kü-ˈtu̇r, -ˈtuer\ 1: the business of designing, making, and selling fashionable custom-made women’s clothing

Well over ten years ago I found myself having a conversation with a couturier. It was one evening on 57th street well after all the stores had closed for the day. I had stopped in front of Dior to look at the pieces in the window.  “What do you think?” asked a voice from beside me. The man who asked the question was James Gallanos. Here I was standing on 57th street talking with a designer who from what I knew of at the time was this made-to-measure god.

It was clear that what we both were looking at was not to his liking. I shared with him that I was an aspiring designer and that I knew of his work. What I remember most clearly was that he said “it’s not the same” he described having special zippers made to match stripes on a gown and that the business of fashion would never be the same. You could see his passion for the art of making clothes and how the woman wearing the creations was what inspired him. Things may not be the same and some of the fantastic players may no longer be in the game (Lacroix, Ungaro, Yves Saint Laurent, Versace) but the beauty and fantasy of couture still exists.

Coverage of the Spring 11 Couture collections on http://www.style.com/

Monday, January 24, 2011

Vin-tij\ b: length of existence

It would be fair to say that I rarely if ever, find inspiration from vintage pieces. The desire to sketch new ideas and source fabrics has been the go to formula with my own collection as with things I designed before. Even with the fantasy of trying to create something that may have never existed (ha) I have made my way to discovering the beauty of unique vintage pieces.

The first time I vintage shopped it was by accident. Wandering
the streets of Paris I zigzagged through what I thought was a book
store. Kiliwatch turned out to be an oasis of perfectly organized
signature pieces that were "used". It may have been the "greener on the other side" attitude but I went back twice that trip and put my (at the time) Francs where my mouth never was. Since Kiliwatch there have been some enlightening encounters with vintage shopping. A spot in Queens that’s on the DL, Gallery 429 in Greenport, Portia and Manny's in nolita all have sparked revisits.

Last April on a trip to Tokyo I found myself wandering the streets
(hobby of mine) and not once but twice stumbled upon Chicago Vintage,
first on Omotesando then on Jingumae. The selection of denim polo shirts and
Fair Isle sweaters was enough to send any nouveau yup-pster foaming at
the chained comme des garcon wallet. In the back past the South
American cotton tiered skirts were two racks of kimonos. The cliché of
vintage kimonos found in Japan was enough to skip looking them over,
until from the corner of my eye a psychedelic blown up wood grain print
caught my attention. Needless to say this "vintage" piece made its
way home with me. I am not sure if I like it or not, but I do love it.
I love the sheen of the silk, the scratchy weave that goes from graphic
in one glance to hazy and soft in the next. The thin cotton voile color blocked lining of dusty red next to cherry red is my favorite part. Reinterpreting
the print for spring was the initial idea and when that did not work we
thought then for fall; well here's a head's up, it did not happen. I
doubt it will ever become part of the Dallin Chase collection. Even so
I enjoy having it in the studio, my "used" kimono from Japan. More so
I enjoyed the experience of finding what has already been and maybe what it could become.

photos by Jill Birschbach

photo by Jill Birschbach

www.doverstreetmarket.com if you need a wallet